English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.

Cerne Abbey

Early-attested site in the Parish of Cerne Abbas

Historical Forms

  • Abbatia de Cernel 1086 DB
  • Abbatie de Cerne 1175 CartAnt 1194 P
  • conuentus Cernelien' 1249 Cerne 14
  • abbey of St Peter, Cerne' 1274 Pat
  • the monastery of St Mary, Cerne' 1513 Ch
  • (Abbatem) Monast'ii b'e Marie Ap'lor' Petri et Pauli et S'ci Edwoldi confessoris de Cerne 1516 AD
  • Ceren Abbay 1535–43 Leland
  • Ecclesia Sancti Petri Cerneliens' 1086 DB
  • Infirmaria Cernelii 1311 Cerne 14


Cerne Abbey (Remains of) (ST 665014), Abbatia de Cernel 1086 DB, Abbatie de Cerne 1175 CartAnt, 1194 P, conuentus Cernelien '1249 (14) Cerne, 'abbey of St Peter , Cerne '1274 Pat, 'the monastery of St Mary , Cerne '1513 Ch, (Abbatem ) Monast 'ii b 'e Marie Ap 'lor ' Petri et Pauli et S 'ci Edwoldi confessoris de Cerne 1516AD , Ceren Abbay 1535–43 Leland, a Benedictine monastery founded 987 by Æthelmær (S 1217).The abbey church is Ecclesia Sancti Petri Cerneliens '1086 DB (cf. Terra Sancti Petri de Cernel ib), ecclesie de Cernol (io )1288Ass , ecclesie Sancti Petri de Cern 'l13Ilch . There is a reference to Infirmaria Cernelii in 1311 (14) Cerne. Other abbey buildings and features include the abbey barn (the 'Tithe Barn' of mid-14th cent, date now incorporated into Barton Fm infra (v. Hutch3 428, RCHMDo 1 81); the abbey cellar (cf. Rob' de la Celer , Rob' atte Celer de Cerne 1288Ass , Pet 'm de Schyreborne celerarium de Cerne 1343Brid , from ME  celer 'a cellar, a store-room for provisions', MedLat  celerarium 'the officer in a monastery who had charge of the cellar and provisions'); the Abby - House 1774 Hutch1 2292 (it 'stood at the N part of the town…the only remains of it is a mansion house situated at the N or higher end of the market street' ib., to which 1870 Hutch3 427 adds '[It] is now a farmhouse occupied by Lord Rivers' tenants', v. Abbey Ho infra ); the Gate House (6″)infra (v. Hutch3 428, RCHMDo 1 79); Kettle Bridge supra ; the garden called Beauvoir (v. f.ns. infra ); Cerne Park (6″)infra ; and the vineyard (v. Vine Mead in f.ns. infra ). For the legends regarding the founding of the abbey, v. St Austins Well infra .